A fond “farewell” to our favourite Second Life Gridbun

April Linden’s info page in the SL17B “Meet the Lindens” campaign designed to provide SL residents with short profiles on 47 Lab employees who volunteered to take part. Image courtesy of Linden Lab

November 5th 2021 finds me an unhappy / happy bunny Second Life bunny supporter.

Unhappy, because the day marks the last working day April Linden has with Linden Lab, and the grid will be the poorer for her departure. Happy, because the day marks the start of a new chapter in her life and career.

For those (can there be any?) unfamiliar with April, she has, for the last seven years, been a member of the Lab’s Engineering Team, the group of engineers responsible for keeping the servers that run all of SL’s various services purring (or grinding) along.

For the last few years she has been managing that entire team – and has used that position to keep Second Life users informed of all that goes on – the good and the bad – with SL’s servers and systems. In this regard, she has been our Number One Gridbun – so called because of her instantly-recognisable purple bunny avatar.

I’m the manager of the Second Life Operations team! It’s my team that helps keep the servers that run Second Life running. It’s my job to make sure they’re well fed, have the coolest toys, and know that going on vacation is okay!

– April Linden, in her official profile

With some 20 years experience in systems engineering environments, April was one of the many Lab employees who came to the company by way of first being a resident user of Second Life. Her attraction to the platform came via the empowerment it gives people to express themselves positively in a variety of ways. For April this was both the freedom to create (she had her own regions as a user), and – perhaps more importantly – because Second Life gave her the opportunity to undertake self-exploration in a safe, open environment without fear of repercussion, as she noted in 2018:

I come from a background – well, I’ll just be frank, where LGBT issues were not to be discussed, and it was through Second Life that gave me the power and the anonymity and the courage, really, to learn more about myself. And Second Life gave me the power to make my life so much better.

– April Linden

In this respect, April is a living example of the Lab’s recognition and support of people’s right to positively express themselves within an environment that embraces diversity.

April probably came to the notice of many Second Life users through her informative and insightful blog posts that would explain What Went Wrong and Why (what I call her W4 blog posts) after significant issues.

The bunny and the wizard: April Linden poses with her former boss, Oz Linden for an SL16B  session

Reporting on technical issues and resolution had always been somewhat spotty where the Lab was concerned.  During the “old, old” days of the Second Life website and blog, updates were fairly frequent – potentially due to the need for “Black Wednesdays”, when the grid would be down for between 6 and 8 hours on that day for deployment purposes (and often longer if things did go sideways). However, some time around 2008/9, communications became somewhat splotchy across the board, and technical updates a rate thing. Frank Ambrose (F.J. Linden) attempted to reverse this, up until his departure from the Lab at the end of 2011, but it was not until April took up the mantle once more that we were given informative and engaging blog posts on W4 situations.

And I really do mean informative and engaging – April has a way with words coupled with a deep understanding of the hardware and architecture running Second Life that she could communicate what had happened and what had been done to both rectify a situation and to try to prevent its recurrence in a way that many, many, users came to appreciate. So much so that, after particularly disruptive events, the first question that tended to be asked at User Group meetings tended to be, “Will April be blogging about what happened?”

In this respect, April did much to follow through on the re-opening of Lab / user communications initiated by Ebbe Altberg after he took over as the company’s CEO, and helped give users the confidence that communications really were opening up after a noticeable period without them.

April’s farewell announcement

Most recently, April has been key to leading the Engineering Team through out Project Uplift – the work to lift, transition and place all of SL’s complex systems and services from a dedicated operational environment and into “the cloud” and Amazon AWS hardware and infrastructure. With the completion of the physical moves, she and her team have been engaged in the post-uplift work to better bed systems into their new environment and leverage new monitoring and engineering capabilities offered by AWS.

April announced her departure via Twitter, and the news was immediately responded to with a wave of well-wishing mixed with regret at see her leave the Lab. And it its true, April will be missed – not just because of her blog posts, but also because of her bright outlook and irrepressible positivity.  Whoever takes over from her has some awfully big (bunny) shoes to fill.

To April, I can only repeat what I said in my own reply to her tweet – that I wish her every success with her new career path and all the very best for the future. BUT – I’m not going to say “goodbye”, as I’m absolutely sure that she’s find the time to remain a part of Second Life as an active resident.

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